Fantasy Football Auction Draft Preparation

If this is your first fantasy football auction draft, then you may be wondering exactly what to expect heading into your draft.  Whether you pick your squad online or live, there are a few basic guidelines I suggest you follow in order to put yourself in a strong position to acquire a solid team.

Since you are reading this then I take it that you are interested in performing well in your fantasy football auction draft.  You are being proactive and looking for ways to improve your skills.  You may read many articles before you do your draft looking for secrets and words of wisdom to help you win your league which is a good thing.  One thing I have seen which drives me crazy is “experts” that write an article with strategy and they mention things about you being lucky.  If you read that immediately leave the site.  Would a stock market expert recommend that you get lucky as a way to succeed with their product?  Of course, you will need some luck in order to win any pool.  How do you harness luck and use it as a tangible strategy to bring into your draft?  Obviously it’s impossible.  If we knew how to control luck then we’d all be billionaires and we could play fantasy football with real football teams.  My point is I can’t trust the credibility of someone that says you should try and get lucky in order to succeed.  I’m going to tell you that the next few keys will help you potentially create your own luck by putting you in the best situations to draft a winning team.  

Alright, let’s get into some real winning ideas.



This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people there are that play fantasy football that doesn’t prepare before a draft.  I think you should read as much information as you can.  I also highly recommend doing as many free mock drafts on sites like Yahoo or ESPN that you can. For me, mocks are the best tool you can use to prepare.  These mocks will allow you to spot trends in values for particular players.  I always look at the results to look for players that appear to be over and undervalued.  I can see which players will tend to be targeted more aggressively in drafts and ones that will tend to be overlooked.  The more mocks you do, the easier it becomes to spot patterns.  

The one problem with online mocks is that many participants leave once they draft their starting lineup.  This makes it hard to gauge the proper values of bench players since robots begin making picks once the user leaves.  I try and get users to stay as long as possible to get a sense of the prices for the bench guys.  That’s important because your bench will win you your pool.  If it’s not deep then you will never be able to withstand bye weeks, injuries and inconsistent play by your starters.



If you were to build a house would you just pick one that you like and copy it exactly?  Most likely you are going to take aspects of many homes and use them to build your ideal dwelling.  Auction values are no different.  You will not completely agree with any one fantasy expert so why would you use their entire rankings?  This ties into doing your homework.  The more values you read and the more mocks you do the more detailed and individualized you can make your rankings.  You can use the trends you have noticed to create a more accurate ranking than your competitors.  So as you watch your buddies overspending on players you wanted to avoid you will know the values will be ripe for the picking later in your fantasy football auction draft.



In the words of the wise and ever insightful Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”  How true Mike, how true.  Everybody will have a rough idea of what they want to accomplish in their draft.  Fantasy Football Auction Drafts, however, never play out the way you want them too.  Maybe you banked on getting a particular running back only to find that four others thought the same thing.  Now there is a bidding war.  Do you overspend in order to get your man or do you have a fallback plan and know where you’ll spend your money should you pass?  A good drafter will have multiple scenarios and budgets planned out and know what outcomes to expect in each and every scenario.

Now, what do I mean by budget?  I assign a dollar value for every spot on my roster.  For example, I don’t budget more than one dollar for each of my kicker and defense which is fairly standard.  I also don’t typically budget much more than 15 dollars for my bench positions.  I try and spend the bulk of my money on starters and then get the high upside, low-cost players for my bench.  Now if I find myself getting starting players for less than I budgeted, then I can allot that extra coin elsewhere.  Maybe it goes to the bench positions.  The more research you do, the more easily you will be able to make your mid-draft adjustments. 

I recommend having a few scenarios that are quite different from one another but still give you a team that you think you can win with.  The reason is that crazy things can happen in your fantasy football auction draft.  You may have to change your plans a few times because players you want to target simply are too expensive for your budget so you will be forced to look for more affordable options.  



This is the area that makes fantasy football auction drafts fun because gamesmanship comes into play.  The general thought is you nominate players that you don’t want on your team.  The thought is that it forces other drafters to spend their money on players that you don’t want in the hopes that it creates values for you later on in the draft because you’ll have more money later than your opponents.  

I will say I like this strategy.  However, the more experienced you get at auctions and the more you draft with the same people you can tweak this strategy to your advantage.  For instance, I might nominate a player that I believe everyone thinks I’d have no interest in hoping they think I don’t really want him. Then people may be hesitant to try and outbid me because they are scared that I will stop bidding at any time and they will get stuck with that player. 

You also have to really watch for potential good value players that are available.  For example, if you see that there are a lot of wide receivers available that are around the $20-$25 range then I will nominate the players in that group I don’t think to have the highest upsides.  My hope is that you will force other owners to fill roster spots with wide receivers so they won’t bid when they players you like finally get nominated much later.  By doing this you can really manipulate the prices of certain players in your favour and create values.

You should also pay close attention to what all your competitors’ rosters are looking like.  If you see that most other owners have a quarterback drafted then maybe you want to wait and take one later when there is less competition for them.  You can adjust your budget and allot more funds for skill position players.

What we’ve just covered are a few simple guidelines that will apply very effectively to any auction draft.  They are versatile and will get you in a position to do well, maybe even win a league for you.  However, like any guideline, they are open to interpretation.  The more experienced you get at auction drafting the more you will find yourself creating your own guidelines or personalizing the ones you like.  

That’s the beauty of fantasy sports.  There is no right or wrong way to do things.

How To Find Value In Your Fantasy Football Auction Draft

This article is from a couple of years ago, but the strategy still applies today. Change the names out for guys like Barkley and CMAC and you have a great nomination strategy for the 202 fantasy football auction draft. 

This year there seem to be 10 RB’s going for $50-70 dollars.  Anyone of those ten could fetch top dollar in a draft.  A lot of things factor into the price but one theory we see time and time again is what we have dubbed the “Auction U”. Basically, if you look at a tier of players when the first few players are nominated from that tier, they pull down the top dollar.  Then as you approach the middle of the tier, you may be able to grab a guy for a few dollars less.  Near the end of the tier, again you will pay top dollar, as at this point guys are scrambling because they are worried they will miss out on a top tier player, RB in this case.  Let’s look at this theory with actual numbers.

Gurley $65, Zeke $62, Bell $65, Johnson $62, Kamara $60, Saquon $57, Gordon $52, Cook $50, Fournette $50, Hunt $51. These prices fluctuate each and every auction draft.  The guys going for over $60 never seem to drop below but more often the guys going for closer to $50 often approach $60 also.  It all depends when they are nominated and how many of the top 10 are left. 

So, how do you use this information to gain an advantage on your league mates? You want to get your man, and you want to pay as little as possible.  If you play the Auction U theory, of those 10 guys, the highest prices will be the guys nominated early and the guys nominated late.  The first 3 guys nominated in this tier and the last 3 are probably going to cost the most.  Thus if you are up to nominate, and 3 RB’s have gone, then nominate Cook, Gordon Hunt or Fournette if you like them.  The reason being, there are still a lot of decent RBs left and guys will not panic.  They may also see them as a little less appealing as a DJ or Zeke if they are still available and will want to hold their money with hopes of getting a different RB.                  

Now in any auction, you can nominate whoever, whenever.  The consensus shows these are your top 10 big-money RB’s.  This theory can be applied to any tier you have.  Typically with your late-round $1-2 tiers you are not going to need to think about this.  However, your QB tiers and a couple of WR tiers will also follow this theory.  Not too mention your RB2’s (Freeman, McCaffrey, Mixon etc).

From what I am seeing in the mocks, some guys try and get 2 of the top 10 RBs, some guys grab 1 and other guys pass on the top 10.  The guys who pass or grab 1, are often thinking they will get Mixon or Howard or Mccaffrey as their RB1 (if they passed) or RB 2 because after that there are a lot of question marks and it is scary to think you are starting your team with McKinnon or Henry. This is now driving up their prices as again the panic is setting in.  These guys now are going closer to $35 when earlier they were around $25.  A lot of this is based on recency bias as last year the RB’s were making the most noise.  You need to determine what you need for your league scoring.  If you are in a league that gives fractional points per carry then you better go after at least 1 great RB.  If that is not the case and your league is full PPR, then I would save my money and get stud WRs.  You can target PPR backs like McCaffrey, and wait for Collins, Drake or even Lamar Miller as they will be getting the touches.

 Another sneaky strategy to try is if you have a WR or RB from the 2nd or 3rd tier you want, sneak one of them in there early in the nominations.  Maybe a rookie RB like Guice or Freeman or perhaps a WR like TY Hilton or Demaryius Thomas,  Those guys have the potential to be huge contributors, but if it is early on and there are 7 big RBs left and all the big-time WRs…then my hunch is you get them below market value.


You need to mock several strategies to see what works and what your teams will look like.  Right now a lot of big money is being spent on the top 10 RBs, top 5 WRs and top 3 TE’s.  That will not change a lot so you need to know where your money is going to go!


Good luck with your auctions!


Contributor to

Tips For A Successful Auction

How to run a Fantasy Football Auction for the 2020 season? Is it all about auction values, player rankings and draft kits? 

I’ve been the commissioner of an auction league for 5 years now. It started off as an experiment, a way to shake things up a little from the mundane way my friends and I played fantasy football for the previous decade. We now have a waiting list of people trying to get into the league. Actually last year one participant weaselled his way out of going to his wife’s cousin’s wedding so he wouldn’t lose his spot. It’s addictive. You have the ultimate control of your team because any player is available to you. You are not handcuffed by random draft order. 

Like any league, you want things to run as smoothly as possible, and every year I’ve changed things a little bit in the attempt for 100% efficiency and satisfaction for the participants. Here are a few pointers that will help make your league a success and more importantly a highlighted day on your buddies’ calendars. 


  1. Organization is Key!!

I know this may sound obvious but I can’t stress enough how important this is. You need to make sure you outline every rule for the league and the draft itself and have them on hand in order to settle conflicts when they arise. I have drawn up a league constitution that contains everything from draft rules to league scoring to how our waiver wire process works. There is a copy waiting at every draft station and we review it as a group every year before we start the draft. 

As the commissioner, you not only have to make sure the league and draft runs smooth but you want your own draft to be organized so you can focus on drafting the best team possible. You don’t want to waste time explaining details and worrying about helping other participants which will take your focus away from obtaining a winning squad. I ensure the entire draft area is set up hours in advance and all the food is bought and prepped the day before to make for faster cooking on draft day. I set up all the tables and chairs, have the draft board hanging on the wall, and get 

all my personal draft tools and research set up so I’m ready to rock and roll once the guests start arriving. 


2. If you feed them, they will come

Don’t be cheap with the grub. If you offer a nice spread then people will have a good time. The draft will take a long time so I am constantly making fresh popcorn to snack on as we draft. We always have other snacks such as chips and various forms of salted, cured meats on hand as well that will pair nicely with your choice of ale. We also eat a dinner after the draft is over that features cuisine from the winner of the previous year’s drafts favourite NFL team’s city. Last year I smoked 2 pork shoulders and made po boys with slaw and jambalaya because a New Orleans Saints fan won the year before. Once the draft is over, it’s nice to sit around the draft board eating and discussing all the “What the hell were you thinking” results of the last few hours and see who is the pre-season favourite. 


3. To drink or not to drink?

I personally encourage you to have alcohol at your draft…it is mandatory for every participant in our draft. It provides comedy and it can help pass the time if you blow your entire budget on your first 3 picks. You will see some of the dumbest picks after some of your buddies have finished off half a case of Coronas. Who gets into a bidding war for Brian Hartline? I’ll tell you who, the two drunk Bears fans. Plus if your tolerance is higher than your friends then you can reap the benefits as they all overspend. Just make sure your buddies all have a ride home after the draft. You don’t want them sleeping on the floor of your basement bathroom or under your pool table.


4. The Right Auctioneer 

This is probably the most important role on draft day. Being the auctioneer is a thankless job. I would never do it. You stand in front of everyone for hours trying to keep the draft moving writing down every pick on the draft board. It’s definitely not for everyone. We’re on our second auctioneer. The first year the auctioneer we had wasn’t even a football fan. He didn’t know who many of the players were and he had no idea what a football draft would be like, but he was the only person I could find that was willing to do the job. He also ended up as the drunkest guy there which didn’t help. We didn’t get him to do it again. 

Our current auctioneer doesn’t play fantasy football but he is a football fan. He keeps the draft moving at a good pace. Most importantly he likes doing the job. He likes watching how the draft unfolds, and even though he’s not in the pool he follows it throughout the season. We provide him with anything he wants to keep him coming back. He has a bottomless cup of his choice of beverage for the entire evening in order to keep him happy. If you find a good auctioneer you hang onto him like your firstborn and cater to them to keep them wanting to come back. 


5. The ultimate goal of any draft is for the participants to have fun.

If they have fun then they will want to do it again and again and they will look forward to the following year. If you can make the draft process as enjoyable as possible then that sets the tone for a very enjoyable season. If you use these tips then I guarantee that you will be well on your way to the most enjoyable fantasy football season you will have ever played in. Let the battle for bragging rights begin. What better reason is there to play this game?